CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Basketball
  Thu, January 8, 2004


NBA NEWS
RAPTORS
NCAA BASKETBALL
SCOREBOARD
COURTSIDE BLOG
COLUMNISTS
COMMENT






PLAYER BIOS
MOVEMENTS
INJURIES
STATS


FIND A PLAYER:
CONF. STANDINGS
EAST STANDINGS
WEST STANDINGS
WEEKLY SCHEDULE
DAILY LEADERS














LeBron follows in Orr's skates
Bruin led the way for star teens

By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

In another place and another way, he was there before LeBron James was ever born.

A teenager doing the impossible. A teenager changing the perimeters of his game. Probably or possibly forever.

Without this kind of hype or money or notice.

Bobby Orr was four months younger as a rookie when he joined the worst team in hockey in the fall of 1966 straight out of high school. Four months younger than LeBron James was when he began this season with the worst team in the NBA.

There were almost no endorsements for Orr at 18, no Hummer bought for him in high school by his mom, no commercials with Bernie Mac, no contracts with Upper Deck and Nike and Coca Cola for $109 million US awaiting him.

Before he ever played a game.

Already, LeBron James has sued and been sued. It took years for Bobby Orr to become litigant.

The Boston Bruins finished last in Orr's rookie season but never again in his time. In his second season, they had a winning record. By Year 4 they won the Stanley Cup.

Playing a game where one single player can't have the kind of impact a single player can have in basketball.

The kind of timetable the Cleveland Cavaliers would all but kill for.

LeBron James can't be Bobby Orr because there is nothing new to invent in basketball. The best already has been there. Michael Jordan has played. Magic Johnson has played. The big men -- Shaq, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain -- have played. James can join them somewhere in time, and surpass all of them financially, but he can't take the game further.

He can only make it his. The game and the league. At a time when the NBA needs it to be his.

You couldn't take your eyes off Bobby Orr when he played for the Bruins because there was no one before him and no one since that didn't simply play the game, but directed the orchestra. He was the best player on the ice with the puck, the best without it.

He created his own standards as a defenceman and no one has ever come close.

LeBron is creating standards for economics and still you can't take your eyes off him. The $12.96 million the Cavaliers will pay him for this and two more seasons is pocket change in the big picture. He has become the Tiger Woods of basketball. It's all about the sell. Winning will be nice if it comes with it.

"People talk about pressure on the kid," the Raptors' Jalen Rose said. "What pressure? He's got a $90-million contract. He loves it.

"Listen, if they didn't think he could generate the money, they (the companies) wouldn't have given it to him. He's got something they wanted and they paid for it. That's what business is all about."

Bobby Orr was an icon in Canada and New England and in the few other places where hockey is popular. LeBron James is smoother, more comfortable, more mature, and made for corporate America and the corporate world. Already, his jerseys have been so widely distributed you can buy them for half price almost anywhere. Already, the new shoes that bear his name are being sold.

Already, the team is his, even if it hasn't started winning yet. You can see that in the smile of coach Paul Silas. He seems to be the happiest losing coach in the NBA.

After a close up on Silas, you want in on the joke.

"Paul's making $4 million a year. If I was making $4 million, I'd be laughing my ass off too," said Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill in jest. "You actually think Paul's smiling because of the season. He's smiling on the 15th and 30th of every month.

"Losing does not suck when you're making money like that. No," he reconsidered, "losing sucks no matter what."

Bobby Orr lost for only one season. Who knows how long it will be for LeBron James?

"Are you familiar with the name Bobby Orr?" he was asked late last night.

"Who?" he said. "The hockey player. Yeah."

The kid knows history and is making history. A different kind of double double.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


Results | Story